Thaipusam is a Hindu festival which celebrates the moment Parvati blessed Murugan (the Hindu God of War) with a spear so he may slay the demon Soorapadman.
It is observed is on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February) by mostly Tamil communities located throughout India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and other parts of the world.
A main element of the Thaipusam festival is the idea of “Kavadi” (or Burden). The Kavadi is a physical burden that when endured, allows a devotee to ask for help from Murugan.
During the festival, devotees who have chosen to become Kavadi-bearers often choose piercing as their “Kavadi” (or Burden). Typically the Kavadi-bearers will request help from Murugan on behalf of another. Healing of a loved one is a common request, as is the restoration or balancing of spiritual debt.
Devotees fast for 48 hours, remain celibate, eat only pure Satvik food once a day, and think of God continuously before beginning the procession towards the temple.
In Malaysia, the temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur often attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists.
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